January 2021

Norwegian Ale Bowl

Norwegian Bowl

This small wooden bowl is known as an ale bowl. Ale bowls were used at special social occasions, such as weddings, baptisms, Christmas, New Years, and other celebrations. The bowl would be passed around, and everyone would drink from it. Some ale bowls were smaller and would float in a larger bowl filled with ale.   Ale bowls were very prominent in rural Norwegian culture from the mid-1700s to the mid-1800s. Typically, an ale bowl, along with other prominent furnishings, would be left with a farm rather than move with a family to a new home. Some ale bowls were intricately carved, with two horse heads or dragon heads for handles.   Sometimes carved bowls were in the shape of a bird, with the head and tail forming handles. Others were painted in the traditional rosemaling style of that region. This example is very simple. It has a carved handle on one side and a spout on the other. This bowl is worn and well used, with only some green paint remaining.

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